Don’t Give Up on Social Commerce Just Yet

Don’t Give Up on Social Commerce Just Yet

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Social media has given brands and marketers a better access to target audience than any medium in human history. However, recent studies show that only 6.5% of customers are satisfied with social commerce shopping experience. What’s wrong with social commerce and how to leverage the power of social networks for business growth? Read on to find out!

Social commerce current state and future trends

Originally developed by David Beisel and Steve Rubel in mid-00s to denote user-generated content on e-commerce websites (mostly ratings and comments), the social commerce paradigm has shifted towards the ability to view and purchase a product directly from an e-retailer’s social media account (as compared to an online store or brand mobile app).

The concept proved to be a game-changer for both e-commerce tycoons like Amazon and small businesses that operate without a website or simply want to set up an online marketplace to test the waters.

There are several reasons why social commerce has taken off:

  • Shopping is a social activity (while e-commerce is not). New technology – including smartphones and social media – allows customers to seek advice anytime and anywhere, be it a phone call to a friend or a dressing room selfie shared on Instagram;
  • Social media provides an insight into customer behavior. The social commerce approach enables companies to directly interact with their target audience, monitor consumer behavior and turn loyal customers into promoters;
  • Social media usage continues to grow. As the average person spends two hours a day on social media (that’s 30% of desktop and 60% of mobile online time), brands’ ad spending is projected to reach $ 36 billion by the end of 2017.

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Although the global social commerce sales topped $ 30 billion in 2015, 56% of users who follow brands on social media do so in order to see new products or get shopping inspiration.

According to Nora Barnes, a notable marketing research specialist, the majority of e-retailers and customers have only a vague idea of what social commerce is. The term has been used to describe multiple phenomena including social media advertising, e-commerce social plugins, direct sales on social networks, etc. Unlike traditional e-retailers, companies that consider selling products on social media lack knowledge, tools and practical experience to set up a fully-fledged store on Facebook and provide seamless buying experience to customers.

In case you’re about to give up on social media commerce, do not despair: e-commerce companies encountered similar problems 20 years ago. Things (not bad as they are!) will only get better over time.

Top social commerce platforms (and what makes them successful)

Facebook

Despite the continuous decline in organic reach (down 52% during the first half of 2016) and somewhat lackluster performance of AI chatbots running inside Messenger, Facebook dominates the global social commerce market and accounts for 85% of orders placed via social media. The social network enables companies to create customizable product catalogs (with photos and descriptions), manage orders and run successful ad campaigns.

Instagram

With 95 million photos, videos and stories uploaded by Instagram lovers on a daily basis, Instagram has become a powerful source of user-generated content (UCG). According to Salesforce, almost 50% of high-performing marketing agencies use authentic UGC to engage their target audience; why not follow their example? Companies that run high-converting Instagram brand pages skillfully combine product pics and relevant user submissions to increase customer engagement.

Also, Instagram has launched the “Shop Now” feature earlier this year. Several brands that have already tested the new option report that 33% of customers who click on a shoppable post to view product data end up clicking the link which leads to a brand’s website, too.

Pinterest

Pinterest has over 150 million users worldwide (half of those reside in the USA). Although only 80% of its content is original, the network has become one of the leading social commerce platforms – simply because it makes discovering new products a lot easier. The company has developed an advanced visual search tool, introduced buyable Pins and continues to optimize their recommendation engine. As a result, 93% and 87% of Pinterest users access the network to plan for a purchase or to make one, respectively.

Twitter

Twitter’s journey to social commerce started with product prices and buy buttons embedded into tweet previews. In early 2017, however, the company dropped the feature to focus on advertising and customer service. While sceptics were quick to pronounce the inevitable death of social commerce as such, the r-stylelab.com team believes it is Twitter’s inability to leverage custom algorithms and the growing army of influencers for social commerce growth that undermined its chances of success. The Twitter case has taught marketers an important lesson: making everything purchasable is a dead end; instead, brands should enable customers to make one-click purchases in relevant moments only and facilitate communication between influencers and consumers.

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4 tips for social commerce success

Social commerce is still in its infancy – but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to reach out to your customers through their favorite media!

Here’s what you should do:
  • Incorporate SMM into your content marketing strategy. Running a corporate social media account is a great way to share content (including product videos, well-written articles and photos) with your target audience – and educate users on a particular matter;
  • Enable social features on your e-commerce website and mobile app. Social commerce only gives you an opportunity to interact with customers who might’ve never found your company otherwise. That basically means you still need to address a reliable custom mobile application development company to engage smartphone owners and create a responsive website to showcase your products on the Web. However, these media should also support social networking features (including reviews, comments, ratings and share buttons) to win customer trust;
  • Treat your social media account as a landing page. You don’t have to upload your entire catalog to a Facebook store – after all, your task is to shorten the buying cycle. Take several products, track sales and focus on best-selling items only;
  • Beware of fake news. A couple of months ago Kay Jewelers was wrongfully accused of replacing a diamond with a fake stone during a routine ring check-up. Although the company denounced the rumors, their stock well by 3% in mere days. We live in the era of fabricated media, and every brand that runs a social network account can get into hot water. How to deal with false news and troll comments? Make sure to address false accusations first. Contact people who continue to spread fake news. Create high-quality content to educate users.

Last but not least, you should keep up with social commerce trends and make timely changes to your digital strategy. Think big – and success will follow!

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